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I guess I just like liking things

Back in 1983, Q*bert was all the rage. I know you think I’m a little loopy with all the love for Q*bert, but I wasn’t the only one. Little dude was everywhere, with games, a TV show, and books. Really, the only strange thing is there’s so little Q*bert nostalgia to be found.  I must be looking at the wrong eBay.

Qube Mountain looks like a treacherous place

Qube Mountain looks like a treacherous place

That isn’t to say there isn’t any Q*bert stuff to be found. I recently found and purchased two wonderful little items, and thought I’d share them with you. Today we’re talking about a book, entitled The Adventures of Q*bert.

The first hilarious thing about this book is that inside both the front and back covers is a translation guide with the title “What Q*bert means when he says…” Here are the phrases and translations:

66$$# = Whew, that was a close one.

***+ = You are good friends.

*$#¢¢/* = This makes me angry!

%#!!%X = I know I am brave. I will triumph!

**!!*** = I feel great!

Now, you might think this is just a funny little business they put in the covers to tie it in to Q*bert’s famous speech bubble from the game. Oh, no, my friends. In the actual story, the phrases are used, and they are used in such a way that context won’t really tell you what they mean, so you gotta look ’em up. I guess Wreck-It Ralph was right, there is a “Q*bertese” language. If I ever had a parrot, I’d do my best to teach it Q*bertese.

The really great thing about this book is that it not only gives us background on Q*bert and the other characters in the arcade game, it also explains why Q*bert is hopping on the pyramid of cubes (they’re actually called “qubes,” if you want to be specific). Hadn’t you always wondered what the deal was with him hopping on the cubes?  I did. We’ll get to that deal in a minute, but first, here’s the opening paragraph of the book:

Q*bert was a likeable little creature who lived in the far-away town of Q-burg. It was a town different from most in that almost all of the things in it were Qube-shaped. Apples and oranges weren’t round. Neither were balloons. And chickens laid square eggs that were called queggs.

So the stage is set.  We’re in tune with what’s going on: even though Q*bert is round, many things that would normally be round are cube-shaped. Fine.

On this particular day, Q*bert is headed for the “magic mountain of Qube.” He’s never been there before, but today’s the day, and he is psyched. Why’s he going there? Let’s read:

…[Q*bert] had certainly read the legend about it: The qubes of the mountain would change color if someone hopped on them, and if anyone could change all the qubes from one color to another within one day, peace and happiness would come to Q-burg.

The mountain was said to be dangerous, a place full of monsters, where boulders came down upon the unsuspecting. But Q*bert knew that his town would be a better place if someone could only make it to its top. He wanted to be that someone.

Okay, now we’re cooking. Q*bert’s got a dream and he’s going to follow it. Here’s where I don’t follow, though – there are illustrations all through the book, and until we get to the mountain, everything looks pretty nice. Sure, the apples are qubed, but they’d be less likely to roll off a table like that. The sun is shining, flowers are blooming, and some neighborhood kids are floating a (qubed) balloon. Fairly idyllic, looks to me. But good enough is never good enough for Q*bert, and off he goes.

Along the way he meets Slick and Sam, and they decide to go to Qube Mountain with him, but when they come across the “STAY OUT! THIS MEANS YOU! Signed, Coily, Wrongway, and Ugg (The Quarrelsome Quorum),” Slick and Sam get nervous. Q*bert’s unfazed, though, and his courage convinces them to keep following. Sure enough, though, they run into all three members of The Quarrelsome Quorum, albeit one at a time. Q*bert gets past the first two by hopping (he does a lot of hopping) and gets past Coily with the help of Slick, who jumps and lands on Coily’s head, sending the snake down the mountainside. If Slick hadn’t decided to continue on, Q*bert might have been lost.

But with the danger past, the friends are free to continue their quest:

Q*bert, followed by his faithful friends, continued up to the very top of the magical mountain of Qube.

When he looked down, all the qubes had changed colors.

Q*bert was proud of himself.

“**!!***,” he said. “%#!!%X.”

And that’s where the book ends! Seriously!  There is NO resolution to the legend, we never find out if peace and happiness descended on Q-burg, and I am feeling a bit deceived. Still, it’s a fun book with some great illustrations, and it was well worth the money I paid for it, which was right around $12 after shipping. The price tag that was still on the cover from 1983 tells me it was originally $.79, though, so when I get my time machine going I know a way I’m going to save a couple of bucks.

The Adventures of Q*bert was written by John Robinson and illustrated by Al Moraski. Copyright 1983 by Parker Brothers, and recommended for ages 6 to 10.

Next time: the Q*bert card game!


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